WASHINGTON, DC—On May 4, 2004, the American Hellenic Institute hosted Deputy Minister of Defense, Mr. Vasilios Michaloliakos, at an AHI Noon Forum. The Deputy Minister, who made his first official trip to Washington since assuming office, discussed Greece’s unique role as a power for stability and peace in a region plagued by tumult and instability.
Mr. Michaloliakos explained that Greece has several distinct advantages that will enable it to play an effective role in the region, including: (i) its longstanding history as a democratic nation and contributing member of the international community, (ii) its positive relations with neighboring countries, and (iii) its vast political efforts to establish democratic structures in all Balkan nations.
With respect to Greece’s attributes as a soundly democratic nation and a valuable member of the international community, Mr. Michaloliakos noted that within the Balkans, “Greece stands out, because she combines characteristics that no other Balkan, Eurasian or Middle Eastern country has at its disposal.” Mr. Michaloliakos explained that Greece is a “member of the United Nations, NATO, European Union, OSCE and other international organizations.” In addition, Greece is the “most developed country within the wider region,” and it is “politically stable and has strong democratic traditions.” Moreover, Greece has “a rich cultural heritage” and “a high level of social cohesion,” all of which combine to enable Greece to operate as an effective member of the international community.
Mr. Michaloliakos emphasized that Greece’s positive relations with neighboring countries will further enable it to play a role in promoting stability and peace. The Deputy Minister explained that, although its geographic location is afflicted with social tumult and political instability, Greece is uniquely positioned to promote peace and stability because it “has good economic relations and commercial cooperation with all of her neighbors,” and because Greece is “operating three comprehensive plans for the transformation of the Balkans,” including the National Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans.
Mr. Michaloliakos also explained that the good will engendered by Greece’s political efforts to promote democratic structures in the Balkans will further Greece’s status as a power for peace and stability in the region. Greece has taken important steps to integrate the Balkan states into the broader democratic international community, such as when Greece supported the successful accession of Bulgaria and Romania to NATO. Similarly, Greece is presently supporting the proposed accession to NATO of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania, and it has “signed bilateral military cooperation agreements with the Balkan states.” Mr. Michaloliakos also noted that Greece is promoting democracy by “carefully following the internal situation in Turkey and support[ing] the essential changes that ensure a European future for Turkish society, which will play a vital role” in fostering good bilateral relations between the two countries. Accordingly, Greece’s extensive efforts to promote democracy will help secure stability and further ensure Greece’s status as an important force in the region.